If you find you are listed below, please reconsider your grasping, clasping inclinations.
Friend of a friend that I’ve met only once and now encounter at another party
One conversation about the weather and an old movie we both saw doesn’t mean we are on a hugging basis. Or that we know each other. Or that I like you. You know what? I lied to you. I don’t like rainy days. They are depressing. And I hated that movie. Julia Robert’s teeth are too big and she reminds me of a horse. And once a horse bit me. No shit. Right on the shoulder. That sucker just stretched his big head right out of the stall and chomped on down. So big teeth are freaky, and I hate all of Julia Robert’s movies. And what I mean by that story is keep your grubby mitts off of me.
Look, it was just a three day holiday weekend. Seventy-two hours. That’s it. So there’s nothing in that short amount of time that suggests the need for an overly fond physical greeting. Neither of us was just released from a cardiac intensive care unit or a North Korean prison. Get a grip. But not on me.
It’s true you just cut my hair and now you know about that weird little bald spot behind my left ear, but that doesn’t make us BFFs. What it makes us is someone who pays a shitload for a cut and blow-out, and someone else who earns said shitload. So at the end of the appointment when you start reaching for me? Are you going to whisper, “I’m not going to charge you today”? No? Then do not even consider embracing me and rubbing your hair-covered smock all over my coat.
Religious friend of my parents
Do not snag me unaware and pull me to your voluminous bosom and whisper in my ear that you are praying for me. Do not do that. No matter what misfortune has befallen me. If I’ve been abducted and turned into a drug-addled sex slave for two years and returned to society as only a shell of my former self? Hands to yourself. If I’ve been downsized and am now living in Aunt Dottie’s basement that teems with vermin the size of small household appliances? Still no touching. If I’ve been recently released from rehab where I earned the nickname, “Sober Sad Girl?” Yup, paws off. Look, here’s a helpful suggestion: How about you just think of me a devil worshiper? (I know the thought has crossed your mind) You should know that as a consort of Satan, I have demons inside that can burst out of me and tunnel into anyone within a five foot radius. So, for the love of God, back off.
Neighbor’s kid and dog
Yes, kid, you are a lovable tyke with tousled curls and big brown eyes, and in theory, small, young humans are on my hugging list, but your snot output has eliminated you. You always have a runny nose, which is crusty and kind of greenish and makes me want to gag a little. And you wipe your nose on your sleeve—the very sleeve on the very arm you wrap around me, causing me to shudder and later ruin my jeans by rubbing Purell into them. And dog? Yes, I like you. You’re cute and you can’t talk, features I admire in a fellow creature. And, you know, it would be cool if somehow you could give me a quick embrace. But look, what you are doing is not a hug. It’s a hump. Stop it.
Drunk friend of my parents
Why do my parents have such bad taste in friends? Who knows? In any event, you need to understand that when you polish off that fifth whiskey sour, YOU are the only one feeling sentimental about the pig-tailed, bracers-wearing, pimple-covered teenager I used to be. You may not call me, “Susie-Q,” and I’m never going to call you, “Uncle Mike.” Nor will I reminisce fondly about that time we all went ice-skating and I inadvertently did the splits and ripped my pants and everyone could see that I was fourteen years old and still wearing Snoopy underwear. So grasp that drink firmly with both hands and keep them off of me.
Warm regards, but not too warm because then you all would just get huggy,
Susan Gilbert Guerrant